Christopher Check, in his recount of a visit to Edinburgh (“An Instinctive Jacobite,” The Best Revenge, October), describes his glee at learning that the grave of John Knox is lost under a parking lot as well as his urge to urinate on the approximate site. The passage indicates that his glee and the urge are attributable to his Catholicism.
Are we to take this boorish, intolerant—in the inquisitorial sense—attitude to be prevalent among members of the Catholic Church vis-a-vis their fellow Christians? Or is it just a rather low-class joke that I am missing? If so, please let me know, and I might find something to do with that Polish fellow’s grave in Rome.
Mr. Check Replies:
I apologize to Mr. Rachut for coarse humor, doubtless better suited to the squad bay than to a distinguished magazine.
My debt to the memory of John Knox is another matter. When the heretic learned of the cold-blooded murder of the queen of Scot’s Catholic secretary, he described the act as “most just and worthy of all praise.” He heaped similar lauds on the murderers of Cardinal Beaton. He waged war on Tradition, on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and on the Blessed Sacrament. He had his own version of the three-strikes rule: A priest caught celebrating Mass for the third time should be put to death. Knox aroused the mob that he called the “people of God” and the “brethren” to acts of murder, vandalism, sacrilege, and treason. He browbeat the young Mary, reducing her to tears, and publicly and frequently referred to her as “Jezebel.” If Calvin and Luther disagreed with Knox’s teachings and tactics, what is there for me to tolerate?
It hardly matters that there is no marker on his grave. Scotland endures his legacy. Only in the past three decades have there been public Christmas trees in Edinburgh, and a once-magnificent medieval Church on Edinburgh’s High Street stands violently stripped of all its sacred beauty and mystery.
I do, in all Christian friendship, invite Mr. Rachut to join us in Rome in January. I’ll show him the late pope’s grave, and I’ll encourage him to exercise the same restraint that I did.